CUBE Bikes Super HPC 140SL 29  2013 Mountain Bike Review

CUBE Bikes Super HPC 140SL 29 2013

Reviews / Enduro Bikes

CUBE Bikes 359,165

At a glance

Cube has dropped 26’’ wheels from their Stereo line up this year, the DTC system has been discontinued as well.

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In their place is a 160mm 650B Stereo and a 140mm 29’’ Stereo, I have the carbon framed 140mm 29’’ Stereo to rag and rate.
It is fair to say that I have been salivating at the prospect of a 140mm travel 29er from Cube and when this beauty turned up at the office I “shot gunned” it straight away much to the dismay of the other guys and girl in the office.

Tech heads

Cube has pulled no punches with the frame, made from their HPC carbon it weighs just 2100g. Gone is the DTC and in comes ETC, that’s Efficient Trail Control to you and me, which is a four bar suspension system.

The frame is packed with features, these include a tapered head tube, 142 x 12 rear axle with an adaptable mech hanger, Press Fit bottom bracket, integrated post mount for the rear brake and some neat internal cable routing.

Cube’s Trail Motion Rocker drives a Fox Float CTD adjust BV shock that delivers 140mm of travel at the rear wheel.
Trail smoothing duties are taken care of up front by a Fox Talas 34 CTD adjust that can be switched between 110mm and 140mm of travel.

Shimano XT is on hand for all drivetrain duties including a Shadow Plus rear derailleur, this is the clutched one.
Shimano XT brakes deal with the important issue of slowing things down.

Wheels are DT Swiss CSW and these come wrapped in Schwalbe’s excellent Hans Dampf in 2,35 flavour.

Worthy of note is the Rock Shox Reverb Stealth and the rather nice 740mm wide carbon Syntace bars.

Cube Stereo 140 SL 18''

Seat tube 471mm
Effective top tube 586mm
Head tube 110mm
Chain stay 452mm
Front triangle 710mm
Wheel base 1162mm
BB height 336mm
Head angle 68°
Seat angle (eff) 74.5°
Reach 415mm
Stack 635mm

Weight w/o pedals 27.5lbs

On the trail

Jumping on the Stereo the very first thing that came to my attention was the height of the front end, a quick fiddle with the Allen keys and a spacer was swapped from below the stem to above, I still felt that it was too high, the FSA headset used has a stack height of some 16mm which is not helpful.

I pressed on regardless and on the first climb I rode on the Cube the Hans Dampf tyres gave the first indication of the grip that was available, there was quite simply oodles of traction. This was a combination of grippy rubber, the classic 29er power laydown and the fact that the Stereo has a very linear leverage ratio which kept the rear wheel glued to the ground.

That pesky high front end was still evident so I flicked the Talas down to 110mm, if anything I felt that pitched me a little far forward so out came the Allen keys again and the 70mm long, 6 degree rise stem was flipped to give it a 6 degree drop and the Talas went back up to its full 140mm… hey presto, that did the trick and I rode the Stereo like that for the rest of the test.

With the front end now sorted the Cube really started to impress.

As mentioned traction on the climbs is very good and the frame is actually pretty stiff which meant with a little effort the Stereo fairly scampered up climbs.

On those wonderful bits of trail that trace the contours of the hill the bike gathered speed quickly and carried it through rough sections and corners with aplomb, so much speed in fact that I had to adjust in order to hit the turns at the right time, this may have been partially due to the big wheels too but once adjusted things got very fast indeed.
Grip levels via the excellent Hans Dampf were outstanding and I had to drive hard through the corners to induce any sort of drift, I was undecided on whether I liked the high levels of grip as I am a fan of drifting but the more time I spent on the Cube the better adjusted I became and I found that aggressive pumping in the corners brings about very easily controlled slides, all good fun.

What about tight woodland sections and switchbacks I hear you cry. Well the news here is pretty good too, no the Stereo is not as nimble as a 26’’ bike but things were not as bad as I had imagined and with time on the bike I found I adapted and I was able to put the bike about with just a little muscle.

Through root beds and rock gardens the big wheels and linear yet controlled suspension allowed me to carry speed or pedal through with no discernible kickback through the pedals.

Add gravity to the mix and the fun increases, the 140mm of travel matched to the terrain smoothing wheels worked well and I found that ‘going light’ allowed me to float over sections that normally rattle the bike around and kill speed.
In the air the Stereo felt a tad cumbersome at first but again I adjusted and was soon happily popping off 6 foot drops and launching fair size jumps, no not dirt jumping, those 4 foot high doubles that you have to fly 15 feet to clear, the ones you find when out riding trails!

Overall

I came into this test hoping to find out if the world of 29ers was for me, I had always thought that a 140mm travel 29er might be one hell of a package and Cube have pretty much nailed it with the Stereo.

On the negative side I have concerns regarding the height of the front end but a stem change or a headset change would go some considerable way to eliminating that concern, it is more a set up issue than a fundamental flaw.

I struggle to find any further negatives… oh I wasn’t fond of the saddle.

On the positive side things look rather good.

A light weight bike with good frame stiffness and suspension that felt deep yet controlled are all big bonuses. Add a decent spec list and the natural speed that comes with big wheels and you have a very capable bike indeed.

The vital fun factor is definitely present and correct on the condition that you have an open mind and the ability to adapt, if you do then the Cube Stereo SL may just be the bike for you.

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This review was in Issue 21 of IMB.

For more information visit CUBE Bikes

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By Rou Chater
Rou Chater is the Publishing Editor of IMB Magazine; he’s a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, but his passion for bikes knows no bounds. His first mountain bike was a Trek 820, which he bought in 1990. It didn’t take him long to earn himself a trip to the hospital on it, and he’s never looked back since. These days he’s keeping it rubber side down, riding locally and overseas as much as possible.

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